15 Sep 2016

The Business Times

By NISHA RAMCHANDANI

Singapore

FOOD and beverage group Mondelez International Inc is expanding its research and development (R&D) centre in Jurong, in line with plans to build a network of nine big centres worldwide to foster growth and innovation.

The company is investing S$10 million towards overhauling the centre.

Mondelez will break ground on the Singapore facility in November this year, and expects to have it open sometime between the middle and second half of next year. It will add a two-storey building which will bump up the size of the R&D centre to around 3,000 square metres.

With the expansion, the group will boost headcount of R&D staff from 15 as at December 2014 to 75 staff, which will include both local hires as well as staff from its overseas operations.

Aside from working on new ingredient sources, the R&D team will also study new recipes as well as develop and improve processes and packaging for its products.

Its Singapore office currently acts as the headquarters for Asia-Pacific but from October will also oversee the Middle East and Africa. Its Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa business is expected to contribute US$6 billion to group revenues, which total around US$30 billion.

In all, Mondelez is investing US$65 million to build a network of nine big strategic technical centres, of which three will be located in the Asia-Pacific, underscoring the region's importance to the group.

Besides Singapore, the other two will be in Thane, India, and Suzhou, China.

Trevour Kelleher, director of R&D for the gum & candy category at Mondelez, highlighted that a number of centres will be in emerging markets, where the group sees growth for its consumer products.

The Nasdaq-listed company counts well-known brands such as Toblerone, Cadbury and Nabisco among its list of products.

Other locations for the technical centres include Poland, Mexico, the United States, the United Kingdom and Brazil. Three centres - namely in the US and UK - are already up and running, while the rest will open over 2017 and 2018.

The F&B manufacturer said that the centres will be outfitted with state-of-the-art technologies to deliver breakthrough innovations. For instance, the group developed its Oreo Thins product - a slimmer version of the original Oreo cookie - in China which is currently being exported worldwide.

Rob Hargrove, executive vice-president of research, development & quality for Mondelez, said: "These hubs will enable improved efficiency, effectiveness and accelerated project delivery, while the increased scale across key markets will provide rapid access to changing consumer needs and trends."

Source: The Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission